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Video: Caught! Lawyer faces jail for helping client steal

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    >>> in new mexico, a divorce lawyer is facing jail time after he was caught on tape helping his client take things from the house she once shared with her estranged husband. nbc's craig melvin has the story. [ pounding ]

    >> reporter: a punch, a kick. now for this man, a jail sentence . authorities say the man in the video is raymond van arnum, a divorce lawyer. in the video, you can see a woman trying to get inside the home where she used to live with her now estranged husband. on the windows, a court order and other signs telling her to set up a time to figure out who gets what. the attorney and employees from his law firm don't wait. the man inside, the estranged husband decides to leave. the attorney takes the soccer from his mouth to tap on the window. first she tries a window, he kicks in the backyard. then he runs into the husband who drove back with a warning.

    >> by the way, you're trespassing.

    >> really?

    >> yeah, really.

    >> wow. you should call 911 right now.

    >> i did.

    >> reporter: van arnum was convicted and the judge ordered him to pay $5,000 in restitution and spend 30 days in jail. it is not his first time in trouble with the law. in 2002 he was convicted of cocaine possession and temporarily disbarred. his attorney claimed van arnum was only there with the woman to get things for her baby.

    >> we don't agree that he had the right to even no trespass melissa from the house.

    >> reporter: now the court is considering permit innocently disbarring the divorce lawyer caught on tape. craig melvin, nbc news, los angeles .

TODAY contributor
updated 3/15/2012 10:16:52 AM ET 2012-03-15T14:16:52

A lollipop-licking divorce lawyer is facing jail time after helping a client break into the home of her estranged husband, police say.  He was caught red-handed on the home's surveillance cameras and unwittingly stars in a video now making the rounds on YouTube.

In a video shot last October, Alamogordo, N.M., divorce attorney Raymond Van Arnam is seen approaching the home of Anthony Stonecipher, along with his client Melissa Stonecipher and several associates. The front of the house is posted with a court order instructing Melissa to set up a time with her husband to pick up her belongings.

Attorney Van Arman gives a hard knock on the front door, then a violent kick, before walking back down the driveway. Minutes later, Stonecipher emerges from the home and gets into his car. Van Arman approaches the car, pulls a sucker from his mouth and taps on the window with it. While Stonecipher advises Van Arman that he's on camera, Van Arman mocks his words and calls him an expletive.

Video: Caught! Lawyer faces jail for helping client steal (on this page)

After Stonecipher drives away, a brazen Van Arman is seen on video breaking down the home's back door and leading his client in to begin carting away possessions from the home, including some of the husband's legal papers.  But husband Stonecipher returns to the home and catches the break-in.

As Van Arman approaches his car, Stonecipher says, "By the way, you are trespassing." Van Arman responds, "Really? Wow, you should call 911 right now." Stonecipher responds, "Oh, I did."

Police arrived and arrested Van Arman. This week, he pleaded guilty on four criminal counts and was sentenced to 30 days in jail along with 334 days of supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay $5,000 restitution to Mr. Stonecipher.

While Van Arman's attorney Todd Holmes said his client "admitted he could have done things different," they still believe Stonecipher had no just cause to bar his estranged wife from the home they once shared.

"We certainly don't think he had the right to ‘no trespass’ Melissa from the house," he told NBC News.

But Van Arman's legal woes may not be over. The New Mexico State Disciplinary Board has petitioned the state Supreme Court to disbar the attorney, who was once the head of his county bar association. He was previously barred from practicing law in 2003 after a conviction for cocaine possession.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints


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